coming out · Contemporary · diverse characters · lgbtqia content · self-discovery · young adult

REVIEW: The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

The Official Description: Comic book geek Wesley Hudson excels at two things: slacking off at his job and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local used bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his annoying brother needs wedding planning advice. When all three problems converge, Wes comes face-to-face with the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood

Now, confronted with reality, can Wes balance saving the bookstore and his strained sibling relationship? Can he win the heart of his crush, too?

Just the facts: Young Adult, heading to college, crushing on friends

It’s Wesley’s 18th year and he just wants to have the perfect summer. He wants to work at his favorite bookstore and finally ask out his best friend, but life has other things in store for him. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Julian Winters is a great YA author. I read a lot of YA books – I’ve always loved them, and it’s continued long into my adulthood. I also continue to read them so I’m better able to recommend them at the Library because young people read a lot! This wasn’t my favorite of his books… but it’s certainly a good book! I think. It’s more of a personal thing.

First of all, there is great representation in this book. The main character Wesley is biracial and gay, his best friend and crush is queer and Mexican American. There’s a lovely supporting cast too: biracial side character, a fat side character, a Black side character, a queer Hawaiian side character, aroace character, Black lesbian supporting character, and enby supporting character. There is a character who uses they/them pronouns, there is a character who mentions wearing a binder, and Wesley’s parents are an interracial couple. I don’t think I missed anyone!

There is some great discussion about being a POC and the privilege of “passing”, and the issues that POC face daily. Never does the book come off as preachy or forced – in case you’re worried about that kind of thing. It could seem that it was a bit of stretch to believe that all these diverse folks ended up together, but why not? The bookstore that Wesley works at is a haven for people who are different, who are looking for something “more” in their lives. It makes sense they would be drawn to that type of place.

The main plot of the story is that Wesley’s ongoing quest is to finally be able to tell his best friend, Nico, that’s he got a crush on him. They’ve been friends for a really long time and have always been close. Now that Wesley is facing his final summer in town before going off to college, he is determined to let Nico know how he feels about him.

Wesley’s character is great. He is bright and clumsy and makes lists of very important things. In fact, he’s an expert list-maker. Nico is on Wesley’s top 5 people list… there are lots of reasons for that. Mostly, Wesley just feels “right” when he’s with Nico.

Things are confusing for Wesley. There’s a lot going on in his life. He’s struggling to figure out what he wants to major in. Leaving the bookstore “Once Upon A Page” feels like having to leave home and he doesn’t’ want to do it. And there’s Nico. Is Nico giving him signs that he might be interested? Is he interested in any of the people he sees? What if their friendship is ruined by Wesley’s confession? All of these things conspire to have Wesley constantly avoiding telling Nico anything.

Wesley seems to have a great family. His Mom writes Horrmance books – and Wesley’s complete annoyance by the whole thing is hilarious. His father is a Chef and mostly just texts Wesley to remind him that he needs to choose a specialization. Wesley’s older brother Leo is in law and he doesn’t really seem to have a lot in common with Wesley. There are some sweet moments between the brothers.

Winters writes great descriptions of where the characters are. I have a real sense of what the bookstore was like, and the skies, the beach down in Venice. I can really picture that ideal summer in my head… even if it didn’t turn out quite the way that Wesley had hoped it would.

I would gladly recommend this book to anyone. It’s a sweet story with great representation and reads as authentically young adult.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Mentions character with a brain tumor, implies that character has been diagnosed with cancer, death of supporting character, mentions of a parent dying in the past, grief.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters from Interlude Press via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

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